Every tree has stories to tell. Surprises reveal themselves when we open a log at the sawmill and again when we shape parts close to their final form. We have found nails, barbed wire, even a buried walnut swallowed up by the tree’s growth. A bullet lodged in this particular tree remained concealed until the final carving of the back.
Metal objects generally leave a large blue or black stain for several inches all around their wound, giving us a decent warning before we destroy a saw blade as it crashes through old iron. A lead bullet leaves little trace because it does not react to the acidic moisture in the tree. Showing up at random places, a hidden bullet can ruin a piece if it falls right in a joint where it can weaken a glue bond, or at the edge, making a fragile area easy to break off.
This shot landed smack in the middle of the board, being exposed in line with the heart of the sitter. Whether such a blemish to otherwise perfect grain patterns is rejected or celebrated depends on the customer’s perspective or sense of humor. For this particular customer, the story added to the chair’s charm.
Discussing perspective in this way reminds me of how many folks will rid their lawns of everything that isn’t the intended species. At our house, we are more likely to dig up a dandelion or yard cress to decorate salad than to rid our yard of “imperfection.” Whether something appears as a defect, a weed, a point of interest, or a superfood is a choice we make. To embrace what is or fix a problem says so much about how we see the world and what we celebrate.
This maple in this Sonus chair will live its second life celebrated for having survived a hunter’s missed shot, made special by our client’s view of life as much as by the incident that put a bullet in the chair’s back.